Making History Blog

Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.

Building Really Steep Railroads

Building Really Steep Railroads
In studying history, one of my favorite discoveries is how creativity and ingenuity solved problems, like moving really BIG things. Incline railways were one such invention. These rail lines had nicknames for their many parts – they were “sidehill railroads” using “gravity systems” to run “log slide engines” and “dropping machines.” Basically, what the systems accomplished was moving logs or lumber in really steep terrain. Hare Creek Tramway, 1904. A carload of logs coming down a cable incline tramway to the[... see full page]

Vintage Love Letter

Vintage Love Letter
My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates.You never know what you're gonna get.Forrest Gump The 184-year old letter written by Charles W. Drechlser to his wife Mahalia, given to the Kelley House Museum from the collection of John and Rosemary Kelley Maulbetsch. Kelley House received a remarkably interesting “box of chocolates” last month – a well-packed bin of papers that had belonged to members of the Kelley family, a gift from John Maulbetsch.  Lifting the lid, we unwrapped cardboard[... see full page]

Visiting Mendocino in the 1880s

Visiting Mendocino in the 1880s
As the communities of the Mendocino coast emerge from the recent public health closures, we will be able to fully welcome visitors back to the area.  The Earl family at Alder Camp on Big River, a rustic camping spot created by the adult children of Jerome and Martha Ford. While they lived elsewhere, members of the Ford clan often brought their children and friends to camp near their hometown of Mendocino. Their favorite was Alder Camp, located below Big Hill near[... see full page]

Caspar More Than a Century Ago...

Caspar More Than a Century Ago...
As a historian, it is easy to be researching one project and get waylaid by interesting materials that have nothing to do with the research topic at hand. The book “Caspar Notebook – School Days” by Ann M. Connor, self-published in 1979, was half about the topic I was after (schools) but the rest was stuffed with tidbits of Caspar history from 1895 to 1905 that I share here. The steamer Sea Foam taking on passengers in a trapeze box in Mendocino.[... see full page]

Mendocino City’s Dressmakers and Millineries

Mendocino City’s Dressmakers and Millineries
After giving attention to Mendocino’s early tailor, William H. White, a few weeks ago in a Kelley House Calendar column, recognition is now directed to the female side of the trade -- the dressmakers and milliners (hat designers) of this town. Dressmaker and Millinery Artist America Jane Elliott, c. 1868. (Courtesy Hazel Jarvis Edwards, Lloyd Smith Collection in Kelley House Museum) If a resident was poor or middle class, they may have made their own clothes. But if financial resources allowed there[... see full page]

Kelley House News

Kelley House News
Indeed, the Museum is temporarily closed, and our walking tours are parked for the time being. Even the traditional July the Fourth Lawn Party has been cancelled because of the precautions related to the pandemic. But there are still things happening at the Kelley House. Advertisement - Mendocino had many fine builders in the its early years, such as William Riley Hamilton who constructed at least a dozen documented structures, including the north wing of the MacCallum House on Albion Street[... see full page]